Opera at its best takes the universal themes of humanity and brings them to life in the space and time of a live performance.
Mozart’s Don Giovanni occupies a unique place in the life of Lyric Opera of Chicago. In 1954, after six different opera companies had failed over the previous half a century, Lyric Opera introduced itself to Chicago, opening with a production of Don Giovanni. Against all odds, it triumphed with critics and public alike. From that point on, Don Giovanni has continued to captivate the Lyric audience, revealing to both experienced operagoers and first-timers the revelatory genius of Mozart, one of the greatest musical dramatists in the history of opera.
We think of Don Giovanni differently these days. The issues presented by the opera are disturbingly contemporary and the protagonist’s behavior feels more despicable than ever. The articles in this program confront the characters and their relationships from a contemporary perspective, and we encourage you to reflect on and discuss the opera’s meaning for today.
The unnerving timeliness of Don Giovanni requires a particularly thoughtful and sensitive director. We’re very fortunate to have Robert Falls, who created and premiered this production with huge success as part of Lyric’s 60th-anniversary season in 2014|15. Bob’s work as longtime artistic director of the Goodman Theatre has had a lasting impact on Chicago’s theater scene. He has collaborated on Don Giovanni with the brilliant conductor, James Gaffigan, whose command of Mozart’s style in our recent Così fan tutte made a deep impression at Lyric.
This season’s Don Giovanni is historic in that seldom, if ever, has a single Lyric production featured the debuts of so many internationally celebrated artists. Only Lucas Meachem (Don Giovanni), Matthew Rose (Leporello), and Ryan Opera Center alumna Amanda Majeski (Donna Elvira) have appeared here previously. We’re excited to have them back, along with their colleagues whom our audience will be applauding for the first time: the second of our two Don Giovannis, Davide Luciano; our Donna Anna and Don Ottavio, Rachel Willis-Sørensen and Ben Bliss; our Commendatore, Mika Kares; and our Zerlina and Masetto, Ying Fang and Brandon Cedel. A hearty welcome to them all!
As we present Don Giovanni to you, we’re midway through a season of exciting transition and transformation. Like so many arts organizations nationwide, Lyric is addressing the growing competition for audience attention and donor investment. We’re working diligently, and creatively, to expand our audience base, grow ticket sales, secure new sources of revenue, and engage the communities we serve – and we’ve seen significant success from these endeavors. Our ability to fill the house for grand-opera performances is, in fact, unusually high among our peer group, thanks to more rigorous season-planning and to new strategies being implemented by our entire marketing team. We’re also happy to report that our community programs devoted to learning and creative engagement now reach more than 100,000 people each season in schools and neighborhoods throughout Chicago and the suburbs.
As we look ahead, all of us at Lyric, front-of-house and backstage, will continue to build on this progress. We’re confident that we’re on the right path, and we thank you for your support of everything we do. In closing, we welcome you to Don Giovanni. We know it will be a memorable highlight of your operagoing this season.
Anthony Freud General Director, President & CEO The Women’s Board Endowed Chair